The Cold Water Classic
open water swim at Marina Martinique is one of the original events that has survived from the original JBay Winterfest in 2013. To many it seems crazy – open water swimming in winter with many contestants forgoing wetsuits – but it has a strong following and gets more entries every year. We had a chat with event founder Brenton Williams to see what it is all about, and to discover a little bit of the history of the swim.
How did the Cold Water Classic JBay come about?
When the guys started thinking about putting the JBay Winterfest together in 2013, we realised that as a bunch of mates we were involved in putting on events already such as skating events, mountain biking, surfing and open water swimming. We combined them all and came up with the concept of the Winterfest.
What were the initial challenges with starting it up?
We didn’t have sponsorship which made it tough in the beginning and we also had to convince swimmers to face the challenge of really cold water.
What were some of the best things that happened when you started the event?
That would be establishing Marina Martinique as a genuine cold water (sub 15 C) swim venue and seeing swimmers overcome their fears and swim in the cold.
Contestants in the Cold Water Swim Classic
What is the goal of the event?
Our goal is to grow the sport of cold water swimming, and prepare swimmers for the ultimate challenge – Robben Island!
How is this year’s event going to differ with previous events?
We are hoping for nice weather, after the 8deg c air temperature and the rain that we encountered last year.
Is there anything about this year’s event that is very difficult to deal with?
Cold water is always difficult to deal with and swimmers need to be well prepared for the event.
Do you compete and swim in the event yourself?
I am normally in the water as a support swimmer and keep an eye on things to ensure swimmers safety.
Is there anyone you would like to challenge to compete in the event?
There are only a handful of swimmers in South Africa who are capable of swimming a mile in sub 15 C so I would like to encourage swimmers to try out cold water in the wetsuit division as a start.